--> The pro football team representing Our Nation's Capital (and currently a playoff qualifier!) is now formally named the Washington Commanders -- which is taking some getting used to for longtime fans. But p'haps those who miss the old ethnic-slur team name should try switching to missing some of the old team's great players instead -- starting with a true Washington sports hero, the greatest Redscommander of all time: Slingin' Sammy Baugh. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sammy_Baugh
SSB retired when I was 3, so I never saw him play -- but two of my Russian *literary* heroes, Ilf & Petrov, actually did! And wrote about it, of course, because that's what literary heroes do! Here we are now, well into America's annual college football bowl season -- so what better time to allow myself some genuinely upbeat nostalgia for all 3 of these gents: two great Soviet satirists who found much to like about America in 1935-36 -- including a college football game they heartily enjoyed in San Francisco's fine old Kezar Stadium (where I once saw the R_______ play, w/ Hall of Famer Sonny Jurgensen at QB) -- and Slingin' Sammy, who could throw 'em, catch 'em and even kick 'em like no other Washingtonian before or since. Here's to this trio of greats: Thanks for the fond memories-from-before-my-times, fellas!
ATTN ILF & PETROV FANS: American Football Rides Again! (Fb, 2013)
Wait, what on earth could possibly connect America’s annual Dec-Jan orgy of college football (over 30 post-season "bowl games") with the two great Russian satirists?
Well, think a minute: remember their classic travelogue 'Одноэтажная Америка' (One-Storied America/"Little Golden America," 1937), in which the intrepid duo crisscrossed the country coast-to-coast in a Ford and recorded their experiences for ‘Pravda’ and posterity?
And remember the fine football game chapter (Ch. 32: АМЕРИКАНСКИЙ ФУТБОЛ), where the two go to a college game in San Francisco, find themselves amazed/appalled/baffled by the alternately curious and violent spectacle in the 1st half – but then turn into big fans in the 2nd, cheering right along with the locals ("К первому перерыву мы уже кое-что понимали в американском футболе, а ко второму - были уже великими его знатоками, повторяли фамилии лучших игроков и орали вместе со всеми зрителями")?
Well, I finally tracked down the actual game: it was TCU vs. Santa Clara, and it wasn’t just some run-of-the-mill contest: Ilf and Petrov actually saw All American Slingin’ Sammy Baugh, no. 33 – later Washington Redskin All-Pro and College and Professional Hall of Famer – lead TCU to a 10-6 victory bowl-prep victory. Less than a month after this season-ender in Kezar Stadium, Baugh took his Texas team to the first of two bowl victories: the 1936 Sugar Bowl.
And here’s the, er, colorful acct of it by an AP writer (from a San Bernadino paper): "BRONCOS FAIL TO MATCH GRID PLAY BY FROGS. Spectacular Passing Offense Is Too Much for Santa Clara as Texans Triumph, 10-6"
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